Taliban fighters in South Waziristan. Reuters photo.
With four large-scale Taliban attacks in Pakistan since Oct. 4, including the brazen assault on the Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, the Pakistani government and military are still talking about considering discussing the possibility of issuing orders to provide for a principled decision to launch an offensive against Hakeemullah Mehsud’s faction of the Taliban in South Waziristan. Here is what Major General Athar Abbas, the military’s top spokesman, said today (via the Associated Press of Pakistan):
Pakistan Army is determined to undertake military operation against terrorists in South Waziristan at a suitable time, and the desperate attempts by the terrorists cannot deter its resolve, Director General Inter Services Public Relation (ISPR) Major General Ather Abbass said on Monday. “The government has taken principal decision to undertake operation in South Waziristan – it is now matter of time and the military will decided when to initiate the operation,” he said while addressing a media briefing at ISPR Rawalpindi.
“We are judging the situation there (South Waziristan) and an appropriate action will be taken at a suitable time,” he added.
He said terrorist attack on General Headquarters (GHQ) was a desperate attempt by terrorists which was successfully and effectively foiled by the Army that has complete resolve to safeguard the national interest at any cost.
However, he said the target of the terrorists was to make hostage some senior officers at GHQ with their ultimate aim to demand the release of top terrorists who have been arrested by the government.
“They had given list of over hundred top terrorist leaders, whom they wanted to release from the government,” he added.
When the Taliban conduct a suicide attack at the World Food Program headquarters in Islamabad, follow it up days later with a massive suicide attack at a bazaar in Peshawar, then launch a military assault on the top military headquarters, and follow that up a day later with another massive suicide attack an on Army convoy in Shangla, you might think that a sense of urgency would exist.
Remember that the military and the interior minister began talking up a Waziristan offensive at the end of September, before these attacks took place. Actually, they have been talking up a Waziristan offensive since June.
In fact, back in June, the military announced: “The government has taken a principled decision to launch a military operation” in South Waziristan. Today’s statement by Abbas is virtually identical to the statement he made in mid-June. Four months later, some are looking for principled action, and not just against one faction in South Waziristan; the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan is but one part of a larger problem. As the Rawalpindi attack showed (and no, it wasn’t a South Waziristan-based operation) the Taliban have deep roots in Punjab, too.
For a quick checklist on what to look for in an upcoming offensive, the challenges facing the Pakistani government, and the limitations to addressing the vast extremist threat facing Pakistan, see “A new Waziristan offensive?”
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